Flint, MI– On Monday night, the Flint City Council approved an appointment to the human relations commission, a contract for mental health training services, and a brownfield redevelopment plan that had been on their agenda for several months. 

Also during their meeting on Nov. 22, the council voted to postpone a contract for an “emergency” roof replacement in the south building of City Hall over concerns with the process, and the contractor. 

Here is what they voted to do:

Appointment to the Human Relations Commission

The Flint City Council voted 8-0, with Councilwoman Eva Worthing absent, to appoint Holly Wilson to the Human Relations Commission for a one-year term.

Wilson was appointed by Councilwoman Ladel Lewis, and will represent the second ward. 

“A lot of individuals know her for her tireless service in the community. She’s known as a walking human resource,” Lewis said. “If you need to know, Holly will tell you, and if she does not know she will get you the information.”

According to her resume, Wilson currently works as a community engagement coordinator for Hamilton Community Health Network. She also has previous experience working for the International Academy of Flint, the Neighborhood Engagement Hub, the Urban Renaissance Center and more. 

Councilwoman Tonya Burns echoed Lewis’s sentiments, and said that she thought Wilson would be good for Flint. 

Approved the James P. Cole Brownfield Redevelopment Plan 

The council voted 8-0 to approve the James P. Cole Brownfield Redevelopment Plan, which had been on the council’s agenda for several months due to postponements from the council as well as the administration.

The project will renovate industrial space on the lot located at 1809 James P. Cole Blvd, improving facilities for businesses and making room for new businesses to move in. It is estimated to cost the developer around $14.25 million, with a little over $2.5 million in eligible reimbursable expenses under brownfield tax increment financing.

Councilman Dennis Pfeiffer wanted this plan postponed at the last regular council meeting to get a clearer copy of some of the documents attached in the agenda. After getting them, Pfeiffer said he was more than willing to get it passed.

“I think the community is yearning for more jobs,” Pfeiffer said. “And hopefully your proposal comes to fruition.”

Postpone a contract for an emergency roof replacement at City Hall 

The Flint City Council voted 8-0 to postpone a resolution to enter a contract with Garland/DBS, Inc. for a roof replacement at the South Building at City Hall, in an amount not to exceed $254,991.

“The emergency was based on the state of the roof itself, and the fact that it was a hazard to employees and whoever visits the south building,” Purchasing Manager Lauren Rowley told the council.

But many council members expressed concern with the process by which the proposed contract was brought to council, as well as the contractor itself.  

Garland/DBS bid out the work to sub-contractors, and presented the city with their choice. The company chose the lowest bidder, Lutz Roofing Co., Inc, to do the work, but the council was not provided with Garland’s markup.

“I can’t support this because I think it’s skirting our bidding RFP process, and you know, without open transparency to see these bids, or the final bid from the actual contractor, I don’t see how we can, as a body, approve this,” Pfeiffer said. 

Other council members took issue with the fact that this contract was brought to them as an “emergency,” rather than being dealt with months ago.

“Not having put this out six months ago to be bid, knowing the roof was bad, is to me unconscionable,” Councilwoman Judy Priestley said. “It’s just not appropriate. We need to do these with more time so that we can get these budgeted, and go through proper procurement.”

Others mentioned that they didn’t trust Garland/DBS to get the job done right. 

Garland/DBS oversaw the roof work done at the Brennan and Hasselbring senior centers, which multiple council members said they thought was not up to par.

“I think we need to take this back to committee, I think we need to do something and maybe rebid this out because I don’t know if I wanna trust Garland overseeing the project,” Councilwoman Jerri Winfrey-Carter said. 

Rowley encouraged the council to approve the contract, warning them that due to supply chain issues, costs may be higher in the future if the city does their own bidding process. Still, the council voted to postpone the contract to the next committee meeting with a request that Garland/DBS provide them with their markup prices. 

Approved a contract with Genesee Health Systems to provide mental health training

The Flint City Council voted 8-0 to approve a resolution to enter into a contract with Genesee Health Systems, using $150,000 worth of grant funding, to provide mental health training to the community.

The funding comes from a $5 million grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to implement the Flint Resilience in Communities After Stress and Trauma (ReCAST) project. The grant was awarded to the city in July 2021, and the funds are to be used over a five-year period.

Chief Resilience Officer Lottie Ferguson said that this will cover several different types of mental health training for residents, first responders, and clinicians in the city. According to the resolution document, this includes mental health first aid training, skills for psychological recovery, family strengthening and resilience, and trauma-informed practices for first responders. 

“In the last quarter of the first grant alone, more than 330 residents were given mental health first aid training and other mental health-related training,” Ferguson said. “And this just continues that work. We are increasing the amount of work we are doing with GHS because there were so many people that reached out and asked for additional training.”

Ferguson said the training was completely free to residents, and available in-person and virtually. She said there will be a new calendar for the 2022 trainings coming soon to the Genesee Health Systems website

“I had the honor and privilege of being able to go through this training, I think it was two years ago, and it fundamentally changed how I approached a lot of different things,” Council Vice President Allie Herkenroder said. “So I think that this is, I know that this is, a tremendous program for our community.”

Amy Diaz is a journalist hailing from St. Petersburg, FL. She has written for multiple local newspapers in her hometown before becoming a full-time reporter for Flint Beat. When she’s not writing you...

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